A FRUSTRATED Australian Maritime Safety Authority has announced it will commence its own search for shipping containers that fell off the YM Efficiency in June.
The regulatory body released a statement on Friday saying it had signed a contractor to conduct an inspection of the sunken containers and debris field using remotely operated underwater vehicles.
The move comes after the Professional Fishermen’s Association slammed the lack of action to remove the containers, saying they were putting fishermen’s “lives at risk”.
AMSA said further delays were no longer acceptable and a lack of action from Yang Ming and its insurance company had prompted the operation.
“This operation will not be without cost which AMSA has advised Yang Ming and their insurers that we will be seeking to recover,” AMSA chief executive officer Mick Kinley said.
“The presence of these containers in the valuable fishing grounds off Newcastle presents an unacceptable risk to local fishers.
“The dangers of hooking up on debris has understandably led to many local trawlers avoiding these valuable areas which not only impacts their livelihood but also has knock-on effects for the local industry.”
The ROUVs will descend to the ocean floor and provide imagery of the containers and any associated debris identified by previous sonar surveys.
The images will allow for assessment by salvage experts on whether the items can be brought to the surface safely without causing more damage to the environment.
The underwater operation will likely begin within a week and is expected to take several weeks to complete.
It is unclear if the AMSA search is different to the search Aus Ship, the Australian representative of Yang Ming’s insurance company, announced on Friday.
It said its search would commence in coming weeks.
The YM Efficiency carrier lost 81 containers about 30km off the coast of Newcastle on June 1.
Thousands of tonnes of material and two containers washed ashore all along the Hunter and Mid North Coasts.